Himachal Pradesh recorded around 66 percent voter turnout on Saturday, the Election Commission said citing provisional polling figures till 5 pm for the 14th assembly elections – a crucial test for the BJP, which hopes to beat Najir and return to power. As Congress seeks electoral revival.
It remains to be seen how the two rival parties decode the vote percentages. The state, in the 2017 assembly elections, recorded 75.57 percent voter turnout, up from 73.5 percent in 2012.
Polling started slowly at 8 am but picked up as the day progressed and the sun warmed the winter cold. In the first hour, around five per cent votes were cast, while by 11 am it was 17.98 per cent. It reached 37.19 percent by 1 pm and 55.65 percent by 3 pm.
According to provisional polling data released by the Election Commission (EC), till 5 pm, 66.58 per cent votes were cast.
The EC said that the final figures will be known after the return of all electoral parties and final verification of documents.
Tashgeng, the highest polling station in Lahaul and Spiti, saw 100% polling. All 52 voters cast their votes, election officials said. The station is located at an altitude of over 15,000 feet. At the station, election officials were seen dressed in traditional attire and voters were welcomed with sweets and local food.
Poll panel data showed that among the 68 assembly constituencies, Siraj in Mandi district from where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur is contesting had the highest vote percentage at 82.22, followed by Shilai (77) and Sujanpur (73.65). Baijnath and Sarkaghat recorded 50.25 percent, lowest and 55.40 percent respectively.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Manish Garg said the final figures will be known after the return of all electoral teams and final verification of documents. “The voting process was peaceful and proper arrangements were made for it. There were no untoward incidents, and the polls received a very good response from the public. Even in snow-bound areas, people came out in large numbers with full enthusiasm and enthusiasm,” he said.
Around 130 polling stations in Lahaul and some tribal areas of Spiti, Chamba and Kinnoor were affected by the snowfall.
More than 38,000 people above the age of 80, persons with disabilities and voters with essential services cast their votes through postal ballots, the EC said.
A voter shows his finger marked with unmarked ink after casting his vote for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections in Kullu, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (PTI photo)
In an early morning message to voters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged them to participate enthusiastically in the “festival of democracy” and register a voting record. In a tweet, Modi also wished young voters who will exercise their franchise for the first time.
The Chief Minister addressed the Prime Minister in a tweet. “Voters of the state will create a new record by taking part in the polls and are going to create a new ‘riwaz’ (dhara). Warm greetings to you,” Tagore, who voted in the mandi with his wife and daughters after offering prayers at a temple, said in Hindi.
“We are confident of a massive victory for the BJP. We are getting good response,” he told reporters.
“Himachal will vote for OPS (Old Pension Scheme), Himachal will vote for employment, Himachal will vote for ‘Har Ghar Lakshmi’,” former party president Rahul Gandhi said, encouraging voters to support the Congress.
More than 55 lakh voters in the state are deciding the fate of 412 candidates in this highly political battle. This time there are 24 women candidates in the contest. Out of the total voters, 28,54,945 are male and 27,37,845 are female. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is a new entrant in Himachal and is contesting 67 of the 68 seats, has been relatively quiet as the contest between the BJP and the Congress is shaping up as a direct one, in line with past trends.
“About 50,000 polling workers and about 25,000 security personnel were deployed,” Garg said. The EC has set up 7,884 polling stations including three subsidiary polling stations in remote areas. Of these, 789 are unprotected booths and 397 are critical booths.
CEO said total 157 women polling stations and 37 individuals